In honor of Fathers Day, Pastor Ricky Page gave a message about our Heavenly Father and what it means to be His child. Whether you have a relationship with Him or not, Hes your Daddy.
First, Pastor Ricky gave some background about the apostle Paul, the author of Galatians. Saul, as he was originally known, excelled in government and was a religious leader whose number one job was to snuff out The Way (as the Christian movement was called at the time). On his way to persecute Christians, Saul was knocked off his horse, was suddenly blinded, and had an encounter with Jesus that changed his life. Jesus told him to stop persecuting Christians, changed his name, restored his sight, and gave him a new mission to build the church.
As Paul travelled and planted churches, he wrote letters to encourage and admonish them according to their particular struggles. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul addresses the rift in this church, as the Jewish Christians struggled with sharing their faith and inheritance with Gentiles, a people who were not historically chosen by God. They considered themselves better than the Gentiles and didnt want anything to do with them. Paul admonishes this church, instructing them to come together as one body and live as sons and daughters of the King, claiming they are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26). With God, there is no distinction now between his original chosen children and his newly adopted children.
Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, Abba, Father! Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of[God through Christ. Galatians 4:1-7
As Pastor Ricky and his wife are in the process of trying to foster/adopt a child, he explained that our 21st century idea of adoption is very different from the ancient worlds concept of adoption. In biblical times, if a child was brought into someones home and given him food and shelter, this was simply considered an act of charity, not adoption. Even though he might be treated quite well and provided for, this child had no right to be in the family and was considered a slave (in a job sense) to his master.
Therefore when Paul says that we might receive the adoption as sons, hes not talking about us being taken in as orphans, but something different entirely. In the Greco-Roman world, law only permitted adoption if a mans wife was barren or he had only daughters in his household, as women were prohibited from receiving an inheritance and carrying on the family tradition. In this case, a wealthy man would begin searching for a son to carry on his name and his family heritage. The father would search out a young man who was successful, well-bred, handsome, and in all ways admirable.
To be invited into a home to be an adopted son was a great honor as he was hand-picked, chosen among many to be the new son brought into the family. An adopted son generally already had a biological family, but the law permitted a father to sell his son for money or other exchange, and this was considered an honor. Therefore, when Paul speaks of our adoption by the Heavenly Father, does not mean that we are not helpless orphans receiving Gods mercy and charity, but rather that God has sought us out, identified us as special, and paid a ransom to have us in His family.
Ancient adoption required a ceremony in the temple by which the new father laid hands on a sacrificial animal and on his new son, vowing to protect and support the son as long as he lived. He stated that nothing would separate him from his new child, just as nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). Along with this ancient process of adoption, three things took place as a sign of an everlasting bond between the new father and son, and we can find significance in these things as they relate to our Heavenly Father:
- Total forgiveness
If the son had any financial debts, the adopted father would pay them as well as clear any marks on the sons reputation, just as God wipes away our sin.
- A new name or identity
The adopted son would take the name of his new father, signifying his new family and new life. When God does a great work in someones life, he changes the persons name (e.g. Abraham, Sarah, Paul, Jacob) as a statement that life will not be as it was before. Its a new beginning with a new purpose.
- An inheritance
Ancient adoption secured not only a financial and familial inheritance after the fathers death, but a life of privilege as long as the father was still living. We have this same promise as sons and daughters of God. He promises us spiritual blessing and peace on earth like we have never known, and the inheritance of eternal life after we die.
For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba, Father. Romans 8:15
Dont be discouraged by this if you are a woman, for in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female (Galatians 3:28). We are all clothed in Christ as adopted children, given an amazing future, forgiveness of old debt, a new identity, and new privileges.
Even with this outpouring of love and a new bond with a loving father, sometimes these adopted sons of ancient times would wander off, looking for significance elsewhere. Maybe some of us have wandered away from God in the same way. But His bond is real and everlasting, and He promises to stick with you. Its never too late to come home and start acting like a son or daughter of the King!